What an Employer Can and Cannot Ask

During the Hiring Process

The employer CAN ask:

  • For you to disclose your hearing loss if you know you need a reasonable accommodation to complete the hiring process. Of course, under the American for Disabilities Act, an employer must keep confidential any medical information the applicant discloses.

  • Whether you will need a reasonable accommodation to apply for a job. For example, an employer may have a statement on its job announcement or its website directing applicants who need reasonable accommodations (e.g., a sign language interpreter, additional test-taking time) for the application process to contact a designated person in the company’s Human Resources Department.

The employer CANNOT ask:

  • whether you have ever taken a test that revealed a hearing loss.

  • whether you use any assistive devices for a hearing impairment (such as a hearing aid) or have done so in the past.

  • for your medical history, records, or other information about your hearing loss. However, if an employer knows that you have a hearing loss, and believes that you will need a reasonable accommodation to do the job, he or she may ask if an accommodation is needed and, if so, what type.

After You are Hired

An employer CAN ask:

  • Questions about your  health (including whether you have a hearing loss) and may require an applicant to take a medical examination, as long as he asks the same questions and requires the same examinations of all potential hires for the same type of position. And of course that medical information must be kept confidential.
  • For information to determine whether you can perform the essential functions of the position with or without a reasonable accommodation if he or she becomes aware of an  your hearing loss and reasonably believes that the impairment may affect your ability to perform the job’s essential functions
  • About your hearing loss or require a medical examination if he or she has a reasonable belief, based on objective evidence, that your medical condition is the cause of performance problems or may pose a direct threat to the your or others
  • For reasonable documentation showing that accommodation is needed when an employee requests a reasonable accommodation and the need for accommodation is not obvious.

An employer CANNOT ask:

  • Questions about the hearing loss if an you are having performance problems that the employer does not believe are related to a hearing loss
  • For more information than is necessary for the employer to determine whether an accommodation is needed.

Note: An employer may only withdraw a job offer made to an individual with a hearing loss if he or she can demonstrate that an applicant is unable to perform the essential functions of the position with or without a reasonable accommodation..Employers also may not tell co-workers that you are receiving a reasonable accommodation since that is a disclosure of confidential medical information.

Source: Questions and Answers about Deafness and Hearing Impairments in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Acthttp://www.eeoc.gov/facts/deafness.html#fn8.